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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research

Title: Software for evaluating the environmental impact of dairy and beef production systems

item Rotz, Clarence - Al

Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/3/2013
Publication Date: 4/2/2013
Citation: Rotz, C.A. 2013. Software for evaluating the environmental impact of dairy and beef production systems. Waste tp Worth: Spreading Science and Solutions, April 1-5, 2013, Denver. Co. p. 1.

Interpretive Summary: An interpretive summary is not required.

Technical Abstract: Quantifying the long term environmental impacts of dairy and beef production is complex due to the many interactions among the physical and biological components of farms that affect the amount and type of emissions that occur. Emissions are influenced by climate and soil characteristics as well as internal management practices. Important environmental impacts include sediment erosion, leaching and runoff of nitrogen and phosphorus, and air emissions of greenhouse gases, ammonia, hydrogen sulfide and volatile organic compounds. The Integrated Farm System Model (IFSM) is a comprehensive research tool that simulates production system performance over many years of weather to quantify losses to the environment and the economics of production. From the simulated performance and losses, environmental footprints are determined for carbon, energy use, water use and reactive nitrogen loss. Crop, dairy and beef producing farms can be simulated under different management scenarios to evaluate and compare potential environmental and economic benefits. Management choices can include crop production practices, machinery systems for tillage and harvest, feeding strategies, animal characteristics, and manure handling practices. The Dairy Gas Emissions Model (DairyGEM) provides a simpler educational tool for studying management effects on greenhouse gas, ammonia and hydrogen sulfide emissions and the carbon, energy and water footprints of dairy production systems. Analyses with either of these tools illustrate the complexity of farming systems and the resultant effect of management choices. These software tools are available through Internet download [] for use in individual, workshop and classroom education.

Last Modified: 10/16/2017
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